Strip Clubs, Meth Labs and a Trip to Alcatraz

I am currently scoring fall district writing assessments and I’ve reached the point where I’m fighting the urge to stab out my own eyeballs with my pen. Instead, I’ve decided to take a few moments to share some of what I’ve read so far.

The assignment was to write a formal letter to a 17-year-old cousin who is contemplating dropping out of high school in order to get a part-time job to pay for the car she wants to buy. In this letter, they are supposed to incorporate facts and details, from a random list they were given, to persuade Alex that dropping out is a bad idea.

 The following paper was written by one of my students who clearly thought this assignment was a waste of her time.  Here is her letter:

Hey, hey Alex… If you are 17, a letter isn’t going to be very realistic but I’m going to be as realistic as I can.

          So you have informed me about your ignorant approach to acquire a motorized vehicle…You’re stupid.  That is pretty much all I felt like telling you.

          If you want to buy a car so badly, why don’t you work nights at a strip club?  If you’re attractive, I’m going to assume you are because you’re so stupid, you could make $800 a night.

          What are you gonna do after you’re all old?  Sure, you’d have your car…No man wants to see a forty-year old woman strip for them…Now, pretend we’re in the future.  You have 7 kids and your baby daddy’s bailed and left you. You have zero help.  You just got fired for being unattractive.  None of your family feels the need to help you, fore you seemed to have it all figured out when you dropped out of high school.  All your friends refuse to even be seen with you.

          Now what? Ha! Are you and your seven kids going to live in that car?  Well, you could become a drug dealer. Yes. Let’s pretend you chose that lifestyle. Now it’s about six months later and all y’all are doing great. All the money you guys could ever need.

          Uh oh… the FEDS just busted the door down to your meth lab! now their piling your seven kids into an ambulance… oh gosh!  There seems to be a helicopter that appears to belong to a news crew! You’re now in a black car and being taken far away to Alcatraz where you will be brutally raped by your fellow female inmates…

          Or the other way around. A rival gang could break into your house, kill 6/7 of your kids and kidnap your oldest daughter and sell her to a creepy old man somewhere in Africa.

          Now you’re really living happily ever after!– Stupid…

Oh boy. There aren’t even categories on my grading rubric for this paper.

Update: Look what I found at Barnes & Noble! (They forgot the part about staying in school. Stupid!)

Shortly after I read her letter, I came across another paper that contained the lines, “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain. And the only way that will happen is if you stay in school.” I think I’m going to have that printed on a T-shirt. I’ve found a new way to motivate students.  

“Do you want to dance in the rain? Do you? Get focused and finish your assignment!”

(Oh. I almost forgot the girl who told me she couldn’t write the letter because she “didn’t have a cousin named Alex.” I asked her, “Do you want an A on this assignment? Then you’re gonna have a cousin named Alex.”)

Only 43 papers to go.


Technology, Overpopulation, and Kevin Bacon

It’s been an interesting week, and it’s only Tuesday.

In preparation for our District Writing Assessment next month, my students have been learning how to write argumentative essays. We are starting simple.

Step 1: We read an article.

Step 2: On a note card, the kids each list 3 facts, from the article, that support their claim on the issue.

Step 3: One the back of the note card, the kids each list 3 facts, from the article,  that would support an opposing view point on the issue.

Step 4: The kids write a paragraph.

Sentence 1: Their claim

Sentences 2-3: Two separate pieces of evidence, from the story, that support their viewpoint.

Sentence 4: A counter-claim. (A sentence that states an opposing viewpoint- I have to rephrase it because they forget what     “counterclaim” means)

Sentence 5: One piece of evidence, from the story, that supports their counter-claim.

Count them. Five sentences. Three of which they are copying from a notecard…which they copied from an article. Simple enough.

For the most part, they did a good job and I got a lot of paragraphs like this:  

Prompt: Argue whether or not you think the amount of technology kids consume is a problem or just a part of life.

Paragraph: I think the amount of technology kids consume is out of control. According to the article, average teens spend 16 hours a day using some sort of technology. Teens also spend 95 minutes texting. Some people might disagree and think technology is just a part of life. They say it does help you keep in touch with your family and friends.

Not too shabby.

And then there’s this one. Same prompt.

Technology Makes People Fat?

In my opinion people are making a big deal about kids using to much technology. First off it’s not true, scientist can F off. They make it so why can’t we use it. I we play sports and go to school that leaves three – five hours in a day for technology. Not eight. Let people be obeese if they want, the population is too high anyways.

We will be discussing this paper at his parent teacher conference next week.

On a lighter note, I actually laughed out loud when this happened at the beginning of 2nd Block today.

I see a kid shuffling down the hall towards my room as the bell rings. I wait, holding the door for him because I can tell he’s feeling bad about being late.

Student: “I know. I know. I’m late. I’m sorry. I had to go get my binder from the science room. I left it in there when I was sent home yesterday.”

Me: “You were sent home yesterday? What happened?”

Student: “I told the principal that she looked like Kevin Bacon so she suspended me for the rest of the day.”  

Me: Not even trying to stifle my laughter because, well, she does kind of look like Kevin Bacon. “You what? You said she looked like Kevin Bacon and she suspended you? What happened before that? Surely something else happened.”

Student: “No. Nothing happened. I just said to her, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you look like Kevin Bacon?’ and she sent me home.”

It turns out that things got pretty ugly in gym class yesterday with the sub. When the principal stepped in and told the boys they were going to lose their open gym time during lunch, the boys did not respond very well. Threats were made by students, as well as several smart remarks (If you want to call the Kevin Bacon comment a smart remark) which resulted in parents being called. In the end, several boys were sent home.

When this particular student’s mother showed up to get her son, all she had to say was, “Well, you do look like Kevin Bacon.”

Dress for Success (Pt. 2)

Last week my students took their End-of -the-year-district-writing-assessment.

The prompt:  “Dress for Success” is a phrase all of us have heard before, but it means something different to each person.  Write an essay explaining what “dress for success” means to you.

When I first saw this prompt, I was worried because I was afraid my students would not understand the concept “dress for success.”  I found several articles on the topic for my kids to read, talk, and write about.  We also went over a few articles and examples as a class.  As a result, I was quite impressed with the essays my students produced.  For the most part, their papers had an introduction, middle, and conclusion, and they were able to clearly express their understanding of the topic.

There were a couple that gave me a good chuckle.  Here are a few highlights from some of my favorite essays:

~When I think of the phrase “Dress for Success!”  I think of a person getting ready or preparing for a big job interview.  Like when  person goes to a job interview wearing a muscle shirt and shorts for a job that requires you to cook food.  Or when a person wears super fancy clothes to an interview that requires you to clean bathrooms.  “Dressing for success” is like a guide telling you what you might need to wear to make a good impression.

~Dress for success means to dress for the occasion.  You want to dress for the occasion because you don’t want be out-of-order.  An example of this is going to church in pajamas.  That is an example of dressing out-of-order.

~Schools are even making their dress codes better.  They don’t want the kids to dress themselves in tank tops and super short shorts.  Some girls do that just to fit in.  Those girls are dumb.

~Dressing for success doesn’t only apply to job interviews, but for many other things.  If you’re running for long distances, you don’t want your everyday clothes to slow you down.  How coul you fix this simple problem?  You could get the appropriate clothes for running and it would help you by taking off unneeded weight and make you not get tired as quickly.

~When you are applying for a job interview, you should look nice.  If you want to get a job at a bank, you should wear nice pants and a nice shirt, or a dress. If  you are applying for a job at Hot Topic you could probably wear a T shirt from your favorite band and skinny jeans. Avoid too many body piercings though.

~When you go to a job interview or someones funeral you have to dress with respect.  And nice.  You don’t want your butt or boobs hanging out.  You want people to think your decent and well-behaved.

~Another example is when you wear a tank top and some booty shorts to school.  That’s not a good thing to wear.  You got to wear non-distracting clothes.

~When you come to school you don’t really have to dress for success but you don’t want to come looking a hot mess.  Come looking decent.

~I think dressing for success is important because people will make assumptions about you.  If you’re in Wal-Mart and you’re wearing old pajamas with holes in them in all the wrong places, people will think you’re weird.  If you’re at a school dance, casual, and you wear a wedding dress, people will think you’re lame and weird.  If you go to prom wearing a dressing robe, people will NOT dance with you.

~When I think of dress for success I think of… Say you wanna go to Adventure.  Your friends are dressed in booty shorts and tank tops but there are hundreds of people they’re looking at you, is that really how you wanna dress?  People don’t want to see girls in booty shorts walking around at the age of 11 or 12.

~I think people should dress a certain way.  One reason is if you own a fortune 500 company and you wear flip-flops and a tank top.  The workers won’t take you seriously.

Breaking News: The Titanic is Gay

In order to incooperate technology in the classroom, I have set up a classroom blog for my students. Once a week my students are required to publish a post in reponse to a topic I’ve given them.  Sometimes the topics relate to a story we’ve read or a current event. Other times, the topic might be completely random. The kids love it. I love it… for the most part.  When I see around 90 students a day, keeping up with reading their posts can be overwhelming.  As a result, sometimes posts get published and I  might not notice the content for a couple of days. 

These are a couple of posts I found today.

Topic: Describe your dream job. Explain what the job entails, what a typical day of work might look like, and what you would need to do to obtain this job.

My Dream Job is Photography. ❤
I love taking pictures of everything, Especially naked girls! I think that pictures are so hot. My typical work day would be every single day when i see a hot girl. I should probably take photography classes in high school.

 Topic: Write a review of a book you have read or of a movie you have seen. Provide a brief summary of the plot and explain why you would or would not recommend it to others.

The Titanic
Rate : Zero Star !
The Titanic Is A RETARDED Movie. It Is Realllllly Sad Though. It Is Romantic, And Funny. It is about A Man Who is searching for a Necklace by the name of “The Heart Of THe Titanic” in The sunkin boat ‘Titanic’ And All he finds is a Nude Picture of a Girl Wearing the Necklace. They Anounce it on the news. Rose Calvert (Gloria Stuart) see’s it on the news and contacts him. She tells him that the woman in the drawing is her. She told him the whole story, and then brings up Dawson. Dowson, Is a Boy who got on The boat because he won gambling and is gay.
 Later, She is confronted by Dawson who convinces her to come up from the railing. Rose invites Jack to dinner as a thanks, and after Jack spirits her away to a third class evening of dancing. Rose decides to decide her own future and asks Jack, who is an acclaimed artist to draw her nude wearing only the Heart of the Ocean.
The two then find their way to the cargo hold and find a rich man’s car waiting for them. They proceed to make love in the back seat before the ship hits an iceberg. See?? How Gay Does this sound?? I hate it.

(The student comment that was left… before I had chance to delete the post… wasn’t much better.)

Student comment:  If you hate it so much whyd you do a report on it? god your ugly.

Needless to say, I’ve got about 300 blog posts to scan through before tomorrow morning.  Oops.

>Happy Valentime’s Day

Student (hoping that I would ignore the fact that she was still in the hallway after the bell had rung): “Happy Valentime’s Day, Miss Lewis?

Me: What was that?

Student: What was what?

Me: It’s Valentine’s Day.

Student: I know. That’s what I just said.


Today in class, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we wrote love poems.

Me: “Today you are all going to get to channel your inner William Shakespeare to write the ultimate love poem for Valentine’s Day. Many of you have probably heard of Shakespeare- He wrote plays like Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and many well-known poems. If fact some of you might have seen Gnomeo and Juliet over the weekend.”

Student 1: “Shakespeare didn’t write about love. In Romeo and Juliet, didn’t they all die in the end? Yah. They died. They jumped off that wall.”

Me: “Well they did die, but I’m pretty sure there was poison and daggers involved.”

Student 1: “No. They jumped off that brick wall.”

Student 2: “That was Humpty Dumpty.”

Student 1: “Oh. Right… I never could keep all of my children’s stories straight.”

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>Yep… just like da Vinci

This week we have been talking about the many factors of an author’s background that can influence his or her writing. Yesterday I showed the kids the lyrics to the Beatles’ song, “Blackbird.” The students wrote about their first impressions of the song, then I shared a short article with them explaining how the Civil Rights Movement had inspired John Lennon to write the song. My students then went back to explain how knowing this information deepened their understanding of the song.

In order to help my kids out, I gave them a simple writing frame to follow. They were to copy the sentence starters and fill in the blanks with their own ideas:

After hearing the song “Blackbird” for the first time, I thought the song was about…
I can see now, that… was a major influence to the song.
Although the song first appeared to be about… , I now know that it means much more.
In reality, the song is about/represents…
This song is an example of how… can influence his writing because…

Most of my kids did a really good job. …I said most…

One student completely ignored the writing frame and started her paper with…

“I think it talking about when you where a bady and wow it your to fly away your mom and your dad.”… A rough start but it got much better after that.

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>Exaggerate: (v)- to magnify beyond the limits of truth

>Today in class, we read some Mark Twain and talked about exaggeration. We talked about exapmples of exaggeration from the story, then for fun, I asked them to write a paragraph using exaggeration to describe their experience with this week’s snow storm.

To inspire their young minds, I showed them a Facebook post from my friend Brian:

Brian McMurray
Survival Log: Day 2 – Things are beginning to degrade. The snow has piled up past the garage doors making travel difficult. I have removed the tires from the car and shredded them to fashion a series of digging tools. Was also able to duct tape a fork to a pool cue and create a makeshift harpoon, which I immediately used to harpoon the neighbor’s cat. Poor guy never saw it coming but at least now we’re eating.

These were some of the paragraphs my gems came up with… clearly we still have some work to do…

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